1482 The Portuguese navigator Diogo Cao became the first European to visit the Congo, and set up ties with the Congo.
1600's to 1700's The British, Dutch, Portuguese and French merchants exploited the slave trade.
1870s The Belgian King Leopold II set up a private venture to colonise the Congo.
1874-77 The British explorer Henry Stanley navigated the Congo river to the Atlantic Ocean.
1879-87 King Leopold II commissioned Henry Stanley to establish the King's authority in the Congo basin.
1884-85 European countries at a Conference in Berlin recognised King Leopold's claim to the Congo basin.
1885 King Leopold II announced the establishment of the ‘Congo Free State’, to be headed by himself.
1891-92 Belgian troops conquered the state of Katanga.
1892-94 The Eastern Congo is taken from the control of East African Arabs and Swahili-speaking traders.
1908 The Belgian state annexed the Congo amid protests over killings and atrocities carried out on a mass scale by Leopold's agents. Millions of Congolese were said to have been killed or worked to death during Leopold's control of the territory.
1955 Belgian Professor Antoin van Bilsen published a "30-Year Plan" for granting the Congo increased self-government.
1959 Belgium begins to lose control over events in the Congo following serious nationalist riots in Leopoldville by now renamed Kinshasa.
15th March 1960 Martial Law is proclaimed.
30th June 1960 The Republic of Congo gained its independence from Belgium. Patrice Lumumba became the countries first prime minister while Joseph Kasavubu was made president.
11th July 1960 The copper rich state of Katanga secedes from the rest of the country.
15th July1960 The Congolese army mutinies and Moise Tshombe declared Katanga to be independent. Belgian troops were sent in to protect Belgian citizens and mining interests. The United Nations Security Council voted to send troops to help establish law and order in the country, however the troops were not allowed to intervene in internal affairs (they left in 1964).
14th September 1960 Colonel Joseph Desire Mobutu, the army's 29-year-old chief of staff, lead a coup to break up a power struggle between President Joseph Kasavubu and Premier Patrice Lumumba, and arrested Lumumba after President Kasavubu had dismissed him as prime minister.
November 1960 Congolese and United Nations troops clashed.
January 1961 Colonel Joseph Desire Mobutu returned power of the country to Joseph Kasavubu.
17th January 1961 Patrice Lumumba was handed over to the Katanga rebels and murdered. Fierce fighting broke out between the United Nations troops and pro Lumumba supporters. Evidence later emerged connecting Colonel Joseph Desire Mobutu and the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to Lumumba's murder. However, Belgium also played a part in Lumumba’s death.
22nd January 1961 Belgian paratroops flew into Stanleyville to rescue European settlers.
February 1961 A federation was formed of all the sovereign states, replacing the existing republic.
August 1961 Cyrille Adoula was appointed prime minister of the country.
August 1961 United Nation troops began disarming Katangese soldiers.
September 1961 United Nations troops for the second time tried to crush the Katangan rebels.
18th September 1961 Dag Hammarskjold Secretary General of the United Nations, died in an air crash as he flew out of the country.
31st October 1961 A third attempt was mounted by United Nation troops to once again try and crush the Katangan rebels.
29th December 1962 United Nation troops occupied the Katangan capital city Elizabethville.
1st January 1963 President Tshombe appealed to the United Nations to declare a cease fire.
8th January 1963 President Tshombe was placed under house arrest by the United Nations.
15th January1963 Moise Tshombe bowed to United Nations pressure and agreed to end Katanga's secession.
1964 President Joseph Kasavubu appointed Moise Tshombe as prime minister.
Early 1964 A minor Communist inspired revolt took place in the Kwilu Provence. Within five months this minor revolt would become a major uprising that would involve half of Congo's 14 million people. This would also lead to the recruiting of western mercenaries to fight in the Congo under the command of South African Mike Hoare.
July 1964 Mike Hoare was approached by Gerry Puren to see if he would recruit a mercenary force to help his friend Moise Tshombe keep in power. At a meeting Tshombe out lined a plan to Mike Hoare whereby a group of white mercenaries would be able to help the National Army put down the rebellion which was in danger of over whelming the whole country. It had already been agreed with the Belgian Foreign Minister, Paul Henri Spaak after some consultation with Averell Harriman of the US State Department that Belgium would increase its aid to the Congo by a further two hundred technical advisers, making four hundred in all, and that the United States would increase its shipments of trucks, aeroplanes and radio equipment to help the National Army. These two powers, he added were not averse to the Congo's employment of mercenary troops, in the circumstances, providing they were neither Belgian nor American.
13th August 1964 Major Mike Hoare met with prime minister Moise Tshombe and general Mobutu in Tshombe's residential accommodation in Kalina, where he agreed the conditions for recruiting a force of white mercenaries. Hoare sent his deputy commander, commandant Alastair Wicks, to Salisbury and Johannesburg to set up recruitment offices.
21st August 1964 Major Mike Hoare received the first 30 mercenaries from South Africa at Kamina military base in northern Katanga.
24th August 1964 In charge of 22 mercenaries Mike Hoare sailed from Moba against Albertville. Hoare was scheduled to attack the airport, and to keep it up until reinforcements are flown in and the Congo Army (ANC) attacking the city from the west and south join up with him.
29th August1964 During the night Mike Hoare and a group of his men went ashore near Albertville. Upon reaching a hut from which they heard shouting and singing coming from. The mercenaries made their arrival known with a Swahili greeting, to be greeted by several shots coming from within the cabin, and a large number of insurgents rushing out towards them. Mercenaries Nestler and Bernard Koehlert were killed during an exchange of fire and Eric Bridge and Regazzi were seriously injured. The fighting was heavy and Hoare had no other option but to pull his men back to the boats and try to get back to Moba.
3rd September 1964 Back at the Kamina base Mike Hoare began training and development of the 5th Cdo.
31st October 1964 Mike Hoare and 110 mercenaries of the 5th Cdo were flown from Kamina to Kongolo, where they were led by the Belgian Lieutenant Colonel Liegeois as part of a column to advance upon Stanleyville from the north and liberate the city, which was occupied by insurgents.
5th November 1964 After fierce fighting the 5th Cdo conquered Kindu, and 119 white hostages are freed.
7th November 1964 Mike Hoare and his 5th Cdo freed 97 white hostages from the town of Kalima.
24th November 1964 Mike Hoare and his 5th Cdo reached Stanleyville after having been subjected to numerous ambushes along the way. The city and a group of white hostages were previously liberated by Belgian parachute troops.
10th December 1964 Mike Hoare and his 5th Cdo freed 50 priests and nuns in Yangambi.
16th January 1965 General Mobutu appointed major Mike Hoare to lieutenant colonel. Deputy Commander, commandant Alastair Wicks, appointed simultaneously to major.
February-April 1965 Mike Hoare cleared the northeast corner of the Congo towards the border with Uganda and Sudan of rebels. The cities of Ngote, Nyoka, Mahagi, Golu, Esebi, Aru, Wave, Adi, Aba, Faradje, Watsa, Dungu and Niangara were also liberated.
1st June1965 Mike Hoare and his 5th Cdo conquered Buta in a joint action with mercenaries from 1. Choc, led by commandant Bob Denard.
28th September 1965 From Lake Tanganyika Mike Hoare and 160 mercenaries land on the beach at Baraka which is occupied by insurgents.
29th September 1965 After a fierce battle Mike Hoare and his 5th Cdo take control of Baraka, but several of his men are killed and wounded.
25th November 1965 President Joseph Kasavubu and Moise Tshombe were ousted from power in a 2nd coup led by Joseph Mobutu amid a political crisis. Naming himself as president for five years and canceled elections scheduled for 1966.
12th December 1965 Mike Hoare leaves the Congo after having been in a farewell audience with President Mobutu and had transfer command of 5th Cdo over to major John Peters.
26th October 1966 Joseph Mobutu dismissed the premier Leonard Mulamba, and adopted a presidential form of government, electing himself as president.
21st May 1970 Joseph Mobutu established his Popular Movement of the Revolution (MPR) as the sole political party. All citizens were obliged to join the party.
1st November 1970 Joseph Mobutu was elected president in a one-candidate poll. Throughout the 1970s all political dissent was crushed.
27th October 1971 Under an Africanisation policy, Joseph Mobutu changed the country's name to the Republic of Zaire, while the state of Katanga became known as Shaba and the river Congo became known as the Zaire.
12th January 1972 Joseph Mobutu changed his name to Mobutu Sese Seko. All Zairians were also forced to Africanize their own names and adopt full African dress.
Quote The war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC; formerly called Zaire under President Mobutu Sese Seko) is the widest interstate war in modern African history. The DRC became an environment in which numerous foreign players were involved, some within the immediate sub-region, and some from much further afield. That only served to complicate the situation and to make peaceful resolution of the conflict that much more complex. The war, centered mainly in eastern Congo, had involved 9 African nations and directly affected the lives of 50 million Congolese. Unquote ......Source
During 1973-74 Mobutu Sese Seko nationalised many foreign owned firms and forced European investors out of the country.
1973 Under a "Zairianisation" policy, the government seized 2,000 foreign-owned businesses. Most of the nationalised companies were distributed among Mobutu and his associates. Many failed because of the new owners' inexperience. As the Zairian economy crumbled Mobutu and his circle grew rich by skimming the profits generated by the country's mineral wealth.
1977 President Joseph Mobutu tried to invite foreign investors back to Zaire, but he was not successful.
8th March 1977 Former Katangan secessionists invaded Shaba from Angola, where they had been living in exile. Joseph Mobutu suppressed the rebellion with the help of troops from Morocco and military assistance from his Western allies, including the U.S. and France.
1978 French and Belgian troops helped put down a second Shaba invasion
1989 Zaire defaulted on its loans from Belgium, resulting in a cancellation of development programs and increased deterioration of the countries economy.
1990 President Joseph Mobutu agreed to end the ban on multiparty politics and appointed a transitional government, while retaining substantial powers.
1991 Following riots in Kinshasa by unpaid soldiers, President Joseph Mobutu agreed to a coalition government with opposition leaders, but retained control of the security apparatus and important ministries.
October 1990 U.S. Congress cut direct military and economic aid because of alleged corruption and human rights abuse by Mobutu's regime. The U.S. had supplied hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Mobutu since 1965.
1996-97 Tutsi rebels captured most of eastern Zaire while President Joseph Mobutu was abroad for medical treatment.
May 1997 Tutsi and other anti-Mobutu rebels, aided principally by Rwanda, capture the capital, Kinshasa. Zaire was renamed the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Laurent-Desire Kabila was installed as president.
August 1998 Rebels backed by Rwanda and Uganda rose up against Laurent-Desire Kabila and advanced on Kinshasa. Zimbabwe and Namibia sent troops to repel them. Angolan troops sided with Kabila. The rebels took control of most of the eastern side of Democratic Republic of Congo.
1999 Rifts emerged between Congolese Liberation Movement (MLC) rebels supported by Uganda and Rally for Congolese Democracy (RCD) the rebels were backed by Rwanda.
July 1999 The six African countries involved in the war signed a cease fire accord in Lusaka. The following month the MLC and RCD rebel groups sign the accord.
2000 United Nations Security Council authorised the use of a 5,500-strong United Nations force to monitor the cease fire. However, fighting continued between the rebels and government forces, and the Rwandan and Ugandan forces.
January 2001 President Laurent Kabila was shot dead by a bodyguard. Joseph Kabila succeeded his father as President.
February 2001 Joseph Kabila met with Rwandan President Paul Kagame in Washington. Rwanda, Uganda and the rebels agreed to a United Nations withdrawal plan of his country. Almost immediately Uganda, and Rwanda began pulling its troops back from the frontline.
May 2001 The US refugee agency released a report says the war had killed almost 2.5 million people, directly or indirectly, since August 1998. Later, a United Nations panel said the waring parties were deliberately prolonging the conflict in order to plunder gold, diamonds, timber and coltan, used in the making of mobile phones.
April 2002 At Peace talks in South Africa, Kinshasa signs a power-sharing deal with Ugandan backed rebels, under which the MLC leader would be premier. While Rwandan backed RCD rebels rejected the deal.
July 2002 The Presidents of Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda signed a peace deal under which Rwanda would withdraw its troops from the east of the country and the Democratic Republic of Congo would dissarm and arrest Rwandan Hutu gunmen blamed for the killing of the Tutsi minority people in Rwanda's 1994 genocide attack.
September 2002 The Presidents of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda signed a peace accord under which Ugandan troops would leave Democratic Republic of Congo.
September/October 2002 Uganda and Rwanda both reported they had withdrawn most of their forces from the eastern side of the country. The United Nations sponsored power sharing talks that began in South Africa.
December 2002 A Peace deal was signed in South Africa between the Kinshasa government and the main rebel groups. Under the deal the rebels and opposition members were to be given portfolios in an interim government.
Frode S. Hansen
'Mercenary' by Mike Hoare Published by Corgi
Further articles of interest on the Congo / Zaire
Newspaper articles of interest concerning mercenaries